Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Burgh Boomerang News

Alpha boomerang migrant Jessica Trybus is moving to bigger digs in order to accommodate her growing business:

“We need bigger space and a different kind of space,” Trybus said.

The Crane building’s amenities, such as high ceilings and a comfortable kitchen, along with its location in the Strip District near a grocery store and a mix of restaurants and shops proved a good fit for Etcetera, which also sought a building friendly to bicycle commuters that was close to public transportation.

“The building is set up for early stage companies. They are really accommodating,” Trybus said. “One of my team members is threatening to kayak to work,” she said, of one of her staffers who lives in nearby Lawrenceville.

Describing 2009 as a building year in which Etcetera was able to bring three products to market, Trybus said the company is now poised to grow and could double its staff size in the next year, bringing on new sales and marketing staff along with engineers and designers as needed.

The ebb and flow of the Strip District neighborhood is interesting. I lived in Pittsburgh briefly during 1997. The area was gentrifying and the nighttime scene included a Vietnamese restaurant with a karaoke machine that attracted the after-hours crowd. It was a hip place to hang out. My girlfriend (now wife) worked at Vermont Flatbread, another one of those popular Uricchio establishments.

I gather that by 1999, things were changing for the worse. Beer connoisseur Lew Bryson offered the following review of Vermont Flatbread:

I was prepared to really like this place: good selection of magazines out front, great location, cool name and concept, and definitely NOT the usual multi-tap. The food looked REALLY good, but we'd just had an awesome lunch at Gene's Last Chance and only had time for a quick beer here. We asked the waitress for the tap selections, she rattled them off and ended with "Village Pilsner." Who's that, I asked. "I think they get it from Valhalla," she said, and leaned in to say softly "It isn't very good." Hmmm, I thought, and ordered a Lancaster Spring Bock, hoping it was a keg of this malt nectar they'd hidden in a far corner of the cooler for just such a pleasant Fall day. It wasn't, it tasted like it had been on since April, headed towards outright sour. If a bar is going to have a good selection of beer, they have to take care of it, and taste it, and pull it when it goes bad. Otherwise, don't even try.

Perhaps the original owners had moved on by 1999. Vermont Flatbread used to have the best taps in the city. The beers were carefully selected and served as a wonderful compliment for the adventurous food. Most of the cool kids had moved to DC, many of them now hanging out at Black Cat. The Strip District scene had come and gone. Now, it might be making yet another strong comeback.

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